I’ve been giving more thought to one of the aspects of Bandits and Battlecruisers, the idea of optional attributes.
The game is based on original Dungeons & Dragons and uses the familiar six statistics, but then goes on to suggest several more attributes that the game master may wish to use. These attributes would be rolled randomly just like the others and would allow the game master to tweak the tone of the game to better capture the feel that he or she is going for.
The more I think about it, the more this intrigues me. It’s a simple and elegant method that keeps the old school design sensibilities while turning the core mechanic of attributes into a customization tool. Do you want to add mind-numbing horror? Add the Sanity attribute. Do you want the players to have pulse-pounding Star Wars style dogfights? Add the Reflex attribute. Do you want mind-controlling ESP powers? The Willpower attribute would be a perfect addition.
I’ve seen additional attributes before, either from house rules or game supplements. Some have been useful, some not so much (I’m looking at you Comeliness.) But this is the first time I’ve seen additional attributes presented as a modular system built into the game rules and it’s a true gem of an idea. Presenting it in this fashion can provide a near GURPS-like flexibility to the D&D rules set.
One of the things that drew me to the Old School Renaissance is how it has encouraged creativity and sharing within the community. The wealth of compatible clones and sourcebooks allows us to build a mosaic of rules that are simple, compatible, unique, and understandable. The optional attributes rules from Bandits and Battlecruisers is a nice addition to that toolkit.